The game: 0-0
The Premier League is far from over… By conceding a draw against Crystal Palace on Monday night after a game they completely dominated (0-0), Manchester City (1st, 70 points) left the door open for Liverpool, which If they win at Arsenal on Wednesday, they would be just one point behind Cityzens… The prospect of a championship final on April 10 in Manchester City – Liverpool has never seemed so close.
This hypothesis, improbable a few weeks ago, was fueled by an incredible scenario on Monday. 18 strikes, 2 posts, stops in all directions: Manchester City completely controlled their game at Selhurst Park, but could never find the opening. The history of this 2021-2022 season will therefore remember that Patrick Vieira – winner in the first leg (2-0) – did not lose to Pep Guardiola…
The Spaniard’s face at the end of this draw betrayed his disappointment. By the end of the first half, “Pep” must have wondered how his side could not have opened the scoring yet. Intensely inspired by their sequences, supported by their usual technical mastery (72% possession), the Cityzens, authors of 14 strikes during this first act, suffered in efficiency. In the first twenty minutes, Kevin De Bruyne (14th) or John Stones (19th), on distant attempts, could have broken through the Eagles lock.
But it was in the middle of the half-hour game that the Mancunians were most urgent. On a serve from Cancelo, on an acrobatic recovery of the outside of the foot, De Bruyne could have afforded one of the goals of the year (26th) without Guaita’s intervention. The Crystal Palace Spanish goalkeeper, still decisive on an attack by Mahrez (32nd), could also count on the success of this attack by Cancelo who finished the race on his right post (27th). An action on which Laporte’s recovery passed. Patrick Vieira’s players, completely suffocated by the mastery of the Skyblues, had to wait for individual mistakes to create situations for themselves.
And there were many at first. Over the loss of possession of Laporte (10th), Walker (13th) and Rodri (39th), Wilfried Zaha and Michael Olise were not precise enough to really worry Ederson. Still dominant in the second half, the Mancunians showed the same clumsiness. Neither De Bruyne on a cross that hit the post (57th) nor Bernardo Silva, only two meters on a cross from Grealish, managed to mislead Guaita (71st). With a pinch of success, Vieira’s men could have launched a raid but Odsonne Édouard (82nd) and the tireless Conor Gallagher narrowly missed the mark (85th). With 9 games to go in the Championship, Crystal Palace are 11th with 34 points.
The Player: De Bruyne, a part-time genius
Inspired steps that only he sees. Accurate openings. This Monday night Kevin De Bruyne did Kevin De Bruyne. But the Belgian lacked efficiency at the origin or at the end of almost all Mancunian occasions. Author of a brilliant entry strike (14th), “KDB” could have achieved a small masterpiece – outdoor air law – without the reflex of Guaita (26th). Just as inspired in the second half, the attacking midfielder of City found the post via a cross (57 ‘).
Such as the number of goals that Crystal Palace conceded against Manchester City this season. Winners in the first leg (2-0), the men of Vieira resist this Monday evening. The Cityzens are stuck on 68 Premier League goals this season.